Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier The Lady Bears and their fans celebrate after No. 1-seeded Bradshaw Mountain defeated Notre Dame 47-43 in the second round of the AIA Div. 2 state tournament Friday night in Prescott Valley.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Boosted in part by a vivacious partisan crowd that resembled a sea of red, the Division 2 No. 1-ranked Bradshaw Mountain girls' basketball team eked out its 30th straight victory Friday - on the Arizona high school ranks' grandest stage.
In a Div. 2 state tournament second-round rematch from a year ago in the same gym, Bradshaw once again got the better of Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep in a barnburner, winning 47-43 to advance to the quarterfinals.
BMHS now needs only three more victories to capture the program's first-ever state championship trophy and complete its phenomenal run.
"They always find a way (to win)," Bears coach Efren Badilla said of his girls. "I tell them to use this as a learning experience, because all this is doing is preparing us for the next one. When we make our mistakes, we just keep coming. There's no giving up in us."
On Friday, Bears swing Kylie Morris scored a team-high 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while co-captain Angie Banks poured in 13 points. Morris and Banks each netted six crucial points in a nail-biting fourth period.
With Bradshaw leading only 43-41 inside of a half-minute left, Banks scored in the lane and later drained two free throws with 20.2 seconds to go that sealed the win.
"We stayed together as a team. We communicated," said Banks, who lately has been playing with a sprained left wrist. "When Notre Dame started to lose it a little bit mentally, we started to pick it up mentally."
With NDP trailing 47-41, Saints star guard Monica Turley, who buried a game-high 22 points, hit a shot with 5 seconds remaining, but it wasn't quite enough for the visitors. Two Notre Dame starters fouled out within four minutes of each other in the fourth, and that seemed to hurt the club.
BMHS post Dacie Clark, who was nursing an injured left ankle suffered during last week's sectionals tournament, also came up big in the clutch, tallying nine points and nine rebounds.
But it was Bradshaw's stifling man-to-man and zone pressure defenses that shined brightest, forcing the Saints into 29 turnovers.
"We forced some things and had some turnovers, which, for the most part, is uncharacteristic of our girls," said Saints coach Andy Kiltz, whose team believed it could upset Bradshaw. "With foul trouble, we rotated a lot of different people, too."
BMHS guard Kirsten Smith registered nine steals, as she kept the Bears in the game on an off-shooting night. Smith finished with seven points, five assists and three boards.
"If we didn't have the defense we did, we probably wouldn't have won this game," Smith said. "Anticipating the ball was a big key for us tonight, and getting those steals off the top (of the key)."
Earlier this week, Bradshaw's players encouraged their fans to wear all-red attire for a "red-out" - and the students and parents didn't disappoint, packing a majority of the stands on both sides.
The top-seeded Bears, whose school's primary colors are red and black, entered the 2013 postseason on a phenomenal 29-game winning streak.
Last Feb. 17, they eliminated a Saints club that put a scare into the hosts. In that 2012 second-round meeting, then-No. 4 Bradshaw rallied from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to eventually sink the pesky Saints, 47-45, in overtime.
Although Friday's contest didn't go into an extra session, similar heroics came into play for the Bears on this evening against a 16th-seeded NDP squad that finished the season with a 19-9 overall record.
Knotted 19-19 at halftime, Bradshaw outscored the Saints 10-8 in the third period to take a narrow 29-27 lead.
The Bears kept Notre Dame scoreless through the first 2-1/2 minutes of the fourth, snaring a 34-27 edge on the strength of buckets from Clark and Banks. About a minute later, BMHS grew its advantage to 39-30 on a Morris steal and lay-in.
But the Saints weren't done. They eventually got as close as two points of a tie inside of a minute remaining, down 43-41 after a steal and made bucket from Lauren Loven. When Morris fouled out with 3:26 remaining in regulation, co-captain Banks took over.
"Kylie was a big loss, but as a team we had to pull through and play as a team without one of our main starters," Smith said. "But, obviously, we did really well together. It's amazing."
Morris said she was worried about letting down her team when she fouled out.
"It definitely hurt me inside, but I had a lot of faith in them (my teammates), and I knew they could pull through," she said.
In the first round on Wednesday, Notre Dame blasted Maricopa, 77-61. Meanwhile, the Bears, who earned an opening-round bye as one of the tournament's top eight seeds, had a whole week to prepare. Bradshaw's team traveled to Scottsdale on Wednesday to scout the Saints, and it appeared to pay off on Friday.
The rest of the state tournament, including the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship, now shifts to Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Bradshaw Mountain (30-1 overall) will battle No. 8 Scottsdale Saguaro - which defeated No. 24 Phoenix Washington 66-48 in a second-round tilt on Friday - in the quarterfinals at 7:45 p.m. next Tuesday.
The winner of that game takes on the victor of Tuesday's No. 5 Peoria Liberty-No. 4 Phoenix Thunderbird quarterfinal showdown in the semifinals at 5:15 p.m. next Thursday.
Liberty eliminated No. 12 Prescott 67-44 in round two on Friday in Peoria.
The Div. 2 title contest is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 23 at Jobing.com Arena.
Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by:
To the Girls and coaches of course, but also to the parents who put forth the money for the girls to play club ball during their grade school and junior high and every spring/summer since they started high school, the time you spent taking the kids to phoenix and beyond to wait hours to watch your kids play, the money, the faith you had to have in the coaches of those club teams... congrats to you as well... it was worth it.
Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013
Article comment by:
We are all sooooo oroud of you girls!! You once again last night proved what it is to be a bear. All grit, no quit!